Karlsson’s three assists help Sharks dethrone Kings

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They might be at nearly opposite ends of the Pacific Division, but in three meetings between the third-place San Jose Sharks and last-place Los Angeles Kings, you’d never know there was an 18-point gap.

Game Three of the season series went much of the way as the other two, minus needing an overtime period to settle things.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead in the season series with a 3-1 win at SAP Center on Monday, with Tomas Hertl‘s 15th of the season nearing the mid-way point of the second period proving to be the game-winner and Erik Karlsson‘s hat-trick of assists providing the spark.

The Kings were king killers heading into the game, having knocked off Winnipeg, San Jose, Vegas and Colorado as they won six of the past nine games entering Monday.

But San Jose was riding a wave of momentum after dispatching the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday.

Any thoughts of an emotional dump were put to rest when Joonas Donskoi opened the scoring late in the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

The Kings didn’t need long to respond in the second, and on a pretty goal to boot.

Anze Kopitar entered the Sharks zone, dropped the pass to a streaking Dustin Brown, who returned the favor as Kopitar finished off the play he started with his 11th just 3:42 into the game.

[MORE: Burns, Karlsson lead Sharks’ resurgence]

But it was Karlsson’s night in the end, something not all the surprising given the kind of heater he’s been on.

After a slow start following his move to San Jose, Karlsson grabbed two assists on a Dec. 7 game against the Dallas Stars and hasn’t gone a game without one since.

Karlsson had a hat trick of them in Monday’s win, providing the pass to Hertl for the eventual game-winner, along with his third of the game on Joe Thorton’s empty-netter with 21 seconds left in the game.

“We had a hard game against Tampa, we were all ready to go,” Karlsson said in a post-game interview on NBSCN. “It felt like the intensity was down a little bit today, which can happen, but I think we stuck with it, stayed within the structure that got us two points today.”

Karlsson made some history, too, pushing his consecutive assist streak to 13 games as he joined a who’s who of the best to ever play on the blue line.

The Sharks moved to within a point of the Vegas Golden Knights for second place and three back from the Pacific-leading Calgary Flames.

Los Angeles remains in last place in the Western Conference on 37 points.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck